Thekicked off Sunday, Nov. 20, and it’s almost time for the United States men’s national team to do the same. With FIFA projecting around 5 billion people will tune in to the action this year, keep reading to find out how you can join in on the fun.
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Did anyone see this coming?
England has historically been a slow starter at major tournaments, often laboring to underwhelming victories against lowly opponents. Not a bit of it in Qatar!
Thanks to Bellingham, Saka, Sterling, Rashford, and Grealish, England hit Iran for six to set a high, high bar for the rest of the World Cup. Here is the best action and reaction, followed by the live text commentary as it happened.
I’m off for a lie-down.
Walker Zimmerman wagged his finger in the air from where he lay sprawled out on the ground. He shook his head and yelled, “No, no, no, no, no!” But it was to no avail. The referee was already pointing to the penalty spot.
– Sublime Saka –
England eventually penned Iran deep inside their half and Bellingham delivered in the 35th minute.
Eight minutes later another of England’s gifted prodigies doubled the lead.
Maguire headed down a corner and Arsenal forward Saka swiveled to lash a superb left-foot finish into the top corner.
Sterling put the result beyond doubt with his first goal at a World Cup in first-half stoppage time.
Bellingham fed Kane, whose pin-point cross was volleyed home by Sterling with the outside of his boot.
Taremi fired into the roof of the net to reduce the deficit three minutes later.
Rashford’s cool finish in the 71st minute, 49 seconds after he came on, was followed by Grealish’s 90th-minute tap-in.
There were no surprises in this game. England dominated from start to finish, earning a well-deserved 6-2 win.
Coach Gareth Southgate’s men have incredible strength in depth, which was on display today though they must improve their defense if they want to go far in this tournament.
Southgate: Our defending must improve
England conceded two goals today and Manager Gareth Southgate is aware that their defending must improve ahead of potentially tougher games against a youthful USA side and a Gareth Bale-inspired Wales.
Southgate is justifiably frustrated by how his troops conceded two goals against Iran, who were never in the game.
“I’m a bit fed up with the end of it, really!” he said. “To win by that margin, to play as we did for the majority of the game, we’ve got to be happy. We looked ready. The players dealt with the game well. Our press was really good, our movement was really good. I’ve got to be happy. But we shouldn’t be conceding two goals at that stage of the game. We’ll have to be right on our game against the States. It’s a great start, but we’ll have to be better.”
Man of the match Saka delighted with the display
Man of the match Bukayo Saka has established himself as a vital cog for England and will be key for the Three Lions in this tournament. He is proud of the win for his country as he feels the game showed the team’s strength in depth.
“I can’t describe the feeling – it’s amazing,” said the Arsenal star. “I’m so happy, I’m so proud, and we’ve got the win as well, so it’s a really special day! We needed a good start, we didn’t play the best coming into the tournament. But we showed everyone how much quality we have and what we can do. It’s amazing. We have to be consistent because we have the next game coming up in a few days and we have to come again. I feel like I’m in a good place.”
Full time: England 6-2 over Iran
England dominated this game, scoring six goals and having 79 percent ball possession.
It was a strong performance from Saka, who won the “Man of the Match” award.
There will be some concerns about the Three Lions defending as they sloppily conceded two goals to Mehdi Taremi through defensive lapses in concentration. They got the job done today but cannot afford this when they encounter stronger tests later in the tournament.
Iran will look to learn from the lessons ahead of their game against Wales on Friday.
Grealish scores to make it six for England.
Callum Wilson looked like he was going to shoot but opted to take the less selfish route and play in Grealish, who simply had to tuck the ball into the net.
There will be 10 minutes of second-half stoppage time here.
Truth be told, Iran cannot take many positives from this game.
England was surely favorites to win, but Iran may have hoped to be more competitive. They have been thoroughly thrashed here and this performance will raise serious doubts over whether they can progress beyond the group stage.
Team Melli has had just 20 percent ball possession in the game.
“I wish [at] least we weren’t playing them on the first match. We were building nice momentum earlier in the game. We should now focus on matches with Wales and USA.”
This is now officially Iran’s heaviest defeat in any World Cup match.